The 3M company is a manufacturer of seemingly everything. From adhesives to electronic circuits, their logo stands out proudly on an incredibly diverse assortment of highly functional products. When we began our recent journey into the world of reviewing whole house water filters, we weren’t terribly surprised to find that 3M had also dipped into the water filtration business. The AP903 Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filter System caught our eye immediately not only due to the pedigree of its manufacturer, but also because of its attractively affordable price.
With an enticingly low price and an attractive maintenance-free design, we decided to give the 3M Aqua-Pure system a run for its money. We’ve compiled our findings in the review below. Let’s dive in!
Everything You Need To Know About the 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filter
The Aqua-Pure system is a very simple and affordable whole house water filter. It doesn’t have a lot of options or accessories, it is very much a bare-bones device which does one thing only: filter. For those looking to save on cost, this is fantastic, as the Aqua-Pure system is available for around $250 or less, making it substantially cheaper than many whole house water filter systems.
The simplicity of the design means the Aqua-Pure could not be easier to install or maintain. Installation can easily be handled by any handy DIY home-owner with minimal plumbing experience, or be made quick work of by a professional plumber. Ideally, the system will be installed between shut-off valves to make the annual changing of the filter a simpler process.
Out of the box, the system does not include any fittings, only mounting brackets. It also does not include a pre-filter, though we strongly encourage installing a pre-filter to remove sediment and particulates that can damage your whole house filter system and shorten its lifespan. A simple and inexpensive pre-filter, like this Amazon’s choice pick for just $25, can make a world of difference in your final water quality as well as the longevity of your 3M Aqua-Pure system.
3M Aqua-Pure AP903 Filtration Performance
The 3M Aqua-Pure system is designed to filter water which is already potable and has been disinfected. Typically, this means municipal tap water like you get from a water utility, or in some cases water from a treated well, a private- or public-well which has already been disinfected or treated before it reaches your home.
Filtration in the Aqua-Pure is handled by a 5 micron carbon filter, technology 3M refers to as “non-woven activated carbon pleat media.” It is effective at reducing chlorine taste and odor, improving the color and clarity of water, trapping rust, dust, and other common contaminants. In our taste testing, it does a good job of getting rid of the nasty “tap water taste” that plagues many cities and towns with that certain funk in the water.
However, the 5 micron pore size means that while the Aqua-Pure can clean up questionable tap water, it is not the sort of filter that can be relied on for drinking purposes if your water source is questionable or has not been disinfected. But since this is a whole-house system, the Aqua-Pure does a fantastic job of making your household water cleaner from every faucet. If you suffer from stains on your clothing or bathroom from particulates lurking in your water, something like the Aqua-Pure can be a great investment.
Maintaining the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903
Once installed, the system does not require routine back-flushing like some other systems, or any other maintenance. The 3M Aqua-Pure advertises a lifetime of 100,000 gallons or 1 year, after which the main filter must be replaced. This is the only maintenance required.
Be sure to consider the additional cost of replacing the main filter element once a year. A new filter element for the 3M Aqua-Pure, model AP917HD, costs around $150 for the type of filter element that comes stock with the Aqua-Pure. Another option, model AP917HD-S, advertised with an improved filter that helps reduce scale buildup in your home’s plumbing, is available for around $200.
This annual replacement cost means that while the 3M Aqua-Pure’s initial investment is much lower than many competing systems, it’s operating cost ultimately makes it more expensive than a longer-lasting system with a higher upfront investment. For example, the Aquasana Rhino Whole House-Filter is available in its EQ-1000 model for around $750, offering a lifetime of up to 10 years or 1,000,000 gallons. To operate the 3M Aqua-Pure for 10 years would mean an initial investment of around $250, plus $150 * 9 = $1,350, for a total of around $1,600.
However, not everyone needs 10 years out of their water filter, or even plans to be at the same place for that long! And if you’re looking for a whole house system with minimal upfront cost, the 3M Aqua-Pure is a great place to look.
Initial Installation and Replacing Filter Cartridges
Replacing the filter on a properly-installed system is incredibly simple. All you do is turn the shut-off valves on either end of the system into their “off” position, unscrew the old filter element, and screw on the new one in its place.
If you’re curious what the process of installation is like, what the system might look like setup, or the process of replacing the filter, check out this short video. It focuses on installing the system, but the process of replacing the filter is identical to the process of installing a new one as shown in the video.
3M advertises a maximum flow-rate of a whopping 20 gallons per minute from the Aqua-Pure system. In practice, we noticed absolutely no reduction in water pressure after installing the system, which is always a concern for those who love a firm shower when adding anything to the plumbing.
If your home is going from no filter to a whole house system like the Aqua-Pure, there are plenty of benefits to reap. It can prevent stains in your laundry, get your dishes cleaner without any residue from the wash, and even improve the taste of your tap water by reducing chlorine and particulates. However, the Aqua-Pure AP903 is not the sort of heavy-duty filter you need to purify unsafe water, nor is it what we would suggest for the super health-conscious looking to maximize the purity of their water.
We look at the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 as an ideal budget short-term solution to getting clean water into your home. It does a good job at a remarkably affordable price, though it falls short over the long-term as replacement filters add up. If you’re in a home with municipal tap water you want to improve the quality of, this is a great way to get a set-it-and-forget-it solution for your whole home very affordably.
Another good use of the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 would be for households which don’t rely on it primarily to purify their drinking water. The AP903 can be supplemented by a gravity water filter, under-sink water filter, water filter pitcher, or a range of other options to improve the quality of water for drinking and cooking. Meanwhile, the affordable and reliable AP903 acts as a first-stage of filtration which also improves water quality for less sensitive applications than drinking, such as laundry and bathing.
Overall the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 is an excellent mid-ranged whole house filtration system. While it lacks the intensive filtration capability of some of its competitors, it can do a great job of cleaning up tap water from a municipal source. It is incredibly simple to install and maintain, making it an ideal choice for DIY plumbers.
Ultimately the replacement cost of the filters and their one year/100,000 gallon lifetime makes the 3M fail to compete with long-term system in terms of operating cost. However, as a short-term solution, it is a fantastic way to get started right away on a budget and ideal for those who do not require the longevity of a 5- or 10-year system.
We award the 3M AP903 Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System 4/5 stars.
Learn More About the 3M AP903 Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filter
Find more details, read other customer reviews, get in-depth specifications, or purchase your own whole-house water filter system by visiting the Amazon listing.
You can also watch this short video from manufacturer 3M to get a more animated look at the Aqua-Pure AP903 and its siblings in the AP900 series of whole house water filters.
- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- 3M Aqua-Pure Water Whole-House Water Filtration System (Model AP903)
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An affordable and simple whole-house water filtration system from manufacturer 3M.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.